Randolph of Roanoke (June 2, 1773 - May 24, 1833) was a Representative
and a Senator from Virginia. He was known as John Randolph of Roanoke to
distinguish him from relatives. (The name Roanoke refers to Roanoke
Plantation in Charlotte County, Virginia.) He studied under private
tutors, at private schools, the College of New Jersey (now Princeton
University), and Columbia College, New York City. He studied law in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but never practiced.
In the Spring of 1799, John Randolph presented as a candidate for Congress. Patrick Henry and Randolph were not opposing candidates, but their viewpoints were different. Their "debate" in Charlotte Court House, Virginia, was the first public appearance for the young Randolph, and the last for the aging Patrick Henry. Randolph, an advocate of States' Rights, spoke after Mr. Henry reminded his listeners that they must not "destroy the union upon which our existence hangs."
"It was there that one sun set in all its glory, and another of equal splendor rose exactly on the same spot." -Powhatan Bouldin
"The first time that I ever dreamed of speaking in public was on the eve of my election in March 1799, when I opposed myself (fearful odds) to Patrick Henry." -John Randolph, in a letter to Francis Scott Key
John Randolph of Roanoke was only 26 years old when he was first elected to the U. S. House of Representatives. The Clerk of the House asked if he were old enough to serve. Randolph's reply: "Ask my constituents."
Randolph served the district consisting of Charlotte, Prince Edward, Cumberland, and Buckingham Counties in the House of Representatives: House, 1799 - 1813 , 1815 - 1817, 1819 - 1825 , Virginia Senator, 1825 - 1827, House, 1827 - 1829 Served as Chair of the Ways and Means Committee and as Floor Leader of the House when he was only 32 years old. Member of the Virginia constitutional convention at Richmond in 1829. Minister to Russia, 1830 Reelected to the House, 1833, but died shortly thereafter.
Charlotte County, Roanoke Plantation was recorded as covering 8,207 1/2
acres, assessed at $153,419.12. Randolph owned 383 slaves, all of whom
were inherited or were born at "Roanoke." He did not buy or sell slaves.
John Randolph Freed His Slaves in his will:
1819 Will - "I give my slaves their freedom to which my conscience tells me they are justly entitled. It has long been a matter of the deepest regret to me that the circumstances under which I inherited them, and the obstacles thrown in the way by the law of the land have prevented my emancipating them in my lifetime....
1821 New Will- "I give and bequeath all my slaves their freedom, heartily regretting that I have been the owner of one."
John Randolph also bequeathed $8,000 "or a sum as might be necessary...to transport and settle said slaves to another state or territory," providing each over age 40 not less than 10 acres. They were eventually settled in Ohio after 12 years of litigation. John Randolph had written a number of wills and codicils; he also had periods of insanity, and the estate was litigated in Virginia courts for at least 10 years. The remaining freed slaves made it to Ohio, only to find that squatters had taken over the land Randolph had provided for them. More litigation was needed to evict the squatters, who did not leave willingly.
John Randolph had the finest horses in the country, as many as 160
of them. He developed the Eastern Quarter Horse. His stallion, Roanoke,
was one of the great ones. Many Kentucky Derby winners can trace their
bloodlines back to Roanoke. John Randolph's quick mind and caustic wit made him a strong ally
but a fearsome opponent. His strong opinions and his readiness to voice
them involved him in many political arguments and even duels. The most
famous duel was with Henry Clay. Clay missed, Randolph shot into the
air, and the two shook hands afterward.
Quotes from John Randolph:
"Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions."
"Change is not Reform."
"A state can no more give up part of her sovereignty than a lady can give up part of her virtue."
"I am an aristocrat. I love liberty; I hate equality."
"Life is not so important as the duties of life"
"Never were abilities so much below mediocrity so well rewarded; no, not when Caligula's horse was made Consul." (referring to Richard Rush, upon Rush’s appointment as secretary of the treasury by President John Quincy Adams)
"He shines and stinks, like a rotten mackerel by moonlight." (speaking of Edward Livingston)
"If electioneering were allowed in heaven, it would corrupt the angels."
"That most delicious of all privileges - spending other people's money"
"I have discovered the philosophers stone, that turns everything into gold: it is Pay as you go."
"When a law is passed to exterminate dogs, I shall set my dogs on the officer who comes to execute it." (John Randolph always had dogs. Some of them even went with him into Congress, when the House was in session.)
"I believe I should have been swept away by the flood of French infidelity, if it had not been for one thing, the remembrance of the time when my sainted mother used to make me kneel by her side, taking my little hands in hers, and caused me to repent."